Harley-Powered: 1968 Volkswagen Beetle

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Almost anything custom that can be thought of has been done to a Beetle, and while a motorcycle engine has been swapped into a Beetle before, this is one of the more interesting one’s I have seen. The style is cohesive, and very “motorcycle-y.” This is a running, driving custom creation with more power and torque than a factory beetle. The seller has filmed a short video of this car running found here on YouTube and it sounds great! Imagine pulling up at a stoplight next to this car. Find this “Harleywagen” here on eBay in Florida with bidding at $1,575. 

The engine chrome, black paint, and rust all work together for that ratty motorcycle look. This is certainly unusual, but it doesn’t look bad and will certainly draw a crowd. The engine is a 1994 Harley Evolution with 15,000 miles, and clearly runs quite well as evidenced by the provided video. I would be curious to drive this car and see how well it performs, as I have no doubt that it is more powerful than an original Beetle. If you look closely in the top right corner of this picture, you’ll notice the cool gas tank filler cap that has been installed on the roof. The seller has removed the original gas tank and installed a custom eight gallon aluminum tank above the rear seat.

With the original gas tank removed, there was plenty of space for the most important component of this car: the barbecue grille. Yep, there is a fully-functional grille installed in under the hood where the original gas tank would’ve been! The full name for this car is the “Harleywagenbbq,” and it is no secret where it gets the name from! This car is rust-free and could be converted back to original if the new-owner so desired, though I know I would leave it just like it is! The starter and clutch are designed to work the way the original VW equipment would, so driving this car won’t be as much of a trick as it may seem. Want more power and more crowd appeal in your Beetle? Just add a motorcycle engine! This custom isn’t for everyone, but it is well-done and looks like a lot of fun.

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  1. Jay E.

    Definition of a “Custom”, and its functional. Hate the gas tank, especially with the rubber hose in the engine compartment. BBQ, I cold pass. A bit more refinement and this is one crowd pleasing ear stopper as you drive by. A bargain at twice the price too.

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    • Whippeteer

      Don’t you mean the rubber hose in the passenger compartment?

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  2. jw454

    With such limited air flow, I’m not sure the motor will survive constantly pushing this much weight. Throw a couple of people in there and you’ll easily be 2.5 ~ 3 times what a two wheeler weighs.

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    • Derek

      Aye, a normal 2-wheeler though! Not a Glide with a trailer…

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  3. redsresto


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  4. Brad

    You first mention that the rust, engine, and black paint all work together near the beginning of the article, but wrap it up by saying it’s “rust-free”. Am I missing something? Perhaps perforation-free, but certainly not rust-free…

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    • Andrew TannerAuthor

      If you’ve ever seen a Beetle with structural rust, you know what I mean. If not, then all I can say is that by comparison this one may as well be. Surface rust can be easily removed, and the underside of this Beetle is extremely clean!

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  5. Madmatt

    I don’t think I would feel too comfortable
    grilling so close to that master cylinder,,!?
    pretty cool idea though.The engine looks great
    out back,but probably needs more air flow?
    This is really neat,and looks like a lot of fun!
    Is there anything that can’t be done to a VW bug?

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  6. Whippeteer

    Granted a 1500 cc is around 50 hp stock for a 68, although a 1600 which would have been an easy swap puts out 60 hp which is close to what this engine puts out. Does anyone know what torque the stock engine puts out versus the evo?

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    • JunkFixer

      When new in 1968, the Beetle’s stock 1500cc eng would have had a maximum output of 53HP @ 4200RPM and maximum torque of 78 ft/lb @ 2600RPM.

      The 1340cc H-D Evo received a 40mm carb for 1994 which raised it’s power output slightly – fuel injection was still a year away. It’s maximum power output depends upon which bike it was installed into. In stock trim maximum HP was 58HP @ 5000RPM and between 76 and 83 ft/lb of torque @ 3500RPM.

      The Evo in this car obviously has an S&S Super E carb installed along with open drag pipes. The 1994 stock “emission” camshafts are just not going to work in this application so I would be very surprised if they remain stock. If it has the mild mods I believe it to have, output will be raised some – figures of 72-74HP and 85-86 ft/lb are likely.

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  7. JimmyJ

    Great way to make a reliable car unreliable….

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  8. David Miraglia

    How to ruin a Beetle. Should be the title.

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    • Andrew TannerAuthor

      Fortunately they made 21.5 million Beetles, so there’s plenty of room for customs like this!

      Like 1
  9. Norm

    So it’s a beetle, with the same power, but noisier, will probably vibrate your fillings out, and be even less reliable.

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  10. Wayne

    Those motors sound bad enough in a Harley, why would you you put that pos motor in a Volkswagen?

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    • George

      That “pos motor” is regarded by many to be the best engine Harley ever produced. While they admittedly lack the character of a shovelhead, they’re considerably better made than either a shovel or the twin cam that replaced them.
      In this application I’d be concerned about the thrust force applied to a crankshaft that was never intended to have a thrust force applied.

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  11. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    With that H D motor you would be thee man tailgating at Lambeau field! Probably have to run some duct work from the grill into the cab to keep you warm on the way home after the game though. And I do like the grilling tools strapped down, nice touch.

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  12. Tom Justice

    I always wanted a gas tank above the rear seat in my car, especially one that has no protection of any shape form or fashion in a crash. I think the BBQ in the front is the least of the problems, the BBQ in the drivers seat is the big worry.

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  13. Mark in WNC

    Saying that’s the best engine H_D ever built isn’t saying much!

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  14. Victor Anderson

    Looks like a good way to get beat up at your local biker bar.

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  15. El Chinero

    Explain the drive train, OK? Output sprocket to … VW transaxle to CVs to half-shafts to CVs and the stub axles and wheels??

    Like 0

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